Cycling

The Ortlieb Roller Classic (Plus) Pannier With QL2.1

Sorry, but it’s time to sound like a nerd. At least I’ve warned you…

Panniers. If you didn’t look away at the end of the first paragraph, you’re likely to have do so now but for the few of you left reading, panniers have been on my mind recently. Should I invest in new ones for the 2015 trip from Tarifa to Nordkapp? The current ones – a front and back set of Ortlieb Roller Classic panniers (blue) – have done me good service over the past few years in assisting me transport all my chattels from place to place across the continent twice, along the coast of Scotland and on numerous commutes to and from work. I wrote about them back in early 2010 prior to the Eurovelo 5 trip to Italy, I bought them shortly13042010384 afterwards and even wrote a short piece about how to close them properly in June 2010, and here’s a picture of them brand new (when Reggie was also brand new with his original drop handlebars – they didn’t survive long!). On the downside, one of the attachments for one of the rear panniers is a bit bent and since replacing the front pannier rack last year (and having lost the little plastic inserts that would make them fit) they don’t, well, fit. None of this renders the panniers useless, au contraire! They would probably do me fine for many adventures yet to come but… well, like most people (although not all), I do like the idea of shiny new things, especially when they have been innovated and ‘improved’! “What?” I hear you cry, “The Ortlieb Roller Classic Panniers have been improved? Surely not…” Well yes, they have. No longer are they manufactured with [this is the nerdy bit] a QL1 fitting mechanism, not even a QL2 mechanism but the updated 2015 versions of the Ortlieb Roller Classic Pannier come with a QL 2.1 attachment fitted as standard. Wow! QL stands for ‘quick lock‘ and this is what CycloCamping.com has to say about the matter:

QL1 and QL2 had been around for ever, while the QL3 came out on some Ortlieb gear in 2012, and the QL2.1 came out in 2015. Before 2015, the Ql1 system was found on the “CLASSIC” line, the QL2 on the “PLUS” line, and the QL3 system was designed for some panniers and bags usually used for commuting. Since 2015, the QL1 and QL2 system are no longer used, and all panniers “travel” use the QL2.1 system.

So, forget QL3, that’s just for commuters. QL2.1 is the new kid on the block and has just replaced not just the QL1 but also the QL2. What we need is a nice little computer generated video to demonstrate just how wonderful the QL2.1 system is. Oh look; there’s one here!

Looks good, no? Then again, almost anything ever demonstrated in a computer generated video looks impressive. My favourite bit was the 1960s Batman style ‘klicks’. If you missed them, here’s one again… Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 13.33.51But am I really going to spend the best part of £200 replacing the old set of panniers with a set of almost identical ones just because the video makes them look cool and they go ‘klick’? Well, alas, I probably will… However, there is more. My current panniers are the Ortlieb Roller Classics. There is a range called the Ortlieb Roller Classic Pluses. Apart from a different material – the Classics are PVC, the Classic Pluses are made from ‘PS36C’ (whatever that is) which sells itself as being ‘non-PVC’ – just how different is the Classic from the Classic Plus?. Is PVC such a bad thing? I can only assume that it is. Can’t I find something more worthwhile to do with my money (or indeed my time)? Here are the technical specifications of the Pluses and here is a comparison of the entire Ortlieb range. I do like the look of the slate grey and black Pluses… Should I invest? Advice welcome.

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12 replies »

  1. I have Classics, my wife has the Plus. The PVC is much tougher on the Classics, I wouldn’t buy Plus again, got a hole from the inside from something.

    But the QL2 is much better than the QL1 on the old Classics. So a Classic with QL2.1 sounds great!

    BTW I also have Carradice Carradry with the metal bar and click lock fastenings. Wouldn’t buy them again, almost impossible to remove with cold fingers, they have needed repairing 3 times (my solution is to replace the pop rivets with bolts), tools needed for adjustment. Carradry material fraying after only a couple of years of daily use.

    We have a set of Classics that are well over a decade old and still fine (one hole fixed from when I failed to hook one on properly and it flew off the bike at 20mph).

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  2. Andrew

    The only difference with the 2.1, compared to the 2.0 is you don’t need an Allen key to adjust them. If you want something shiny and new how about a Garmin 810. They do take a bit of getting used to, but they are great for ” You are here are here, on a map” and doesnt need a 3G signal, so won’t give you data roaming charges. It communicates with your phone via Bluetooth, so people can track you if you want. You can download routes from your phone to the device, but you need a computer to create the route ( needs a mouse).

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  3. I know it’s an Ortlieb love in but if you’re wanting to avoid PVC, and it is a nasty substance, there’s always good old British Carradice Super C. I love mine and I’ve always had great service from Carradice though they are literally just over the hill from me in Lancashire. I can cycle there if I need anything.

    The attachment system isn’t as fancy of course being two metal rails and hooks you screw in.

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  4. Sorry to be a fun spoiler but you don’t need to buy new. ortlieb are fantastic at customer service and I have no doubt if you sent them an email requesting a couple of the plastic inserts then they would sort you out with some. When the waterproof coating of my old pair of ortlieb bags deteriorated I wrote asking if it was possible to have them repair. No word of a lie but two days later ortlieb had sent me new bags as they say the coating should never have come off (the bags were very old and very well used and I thought they had lasted adequately enough. Have a word with them and explain what you are doing. You might even get a trade price if you did decide to upgrade.

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    • Yes… There is one other issue that I didn’t mention in the post above. Regarding the panniers that I already have, I don’t like the, err… colour. #fail 😦

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  5. Andrew

    Like you, I also like to buy new things, gadgets or otherwise, as part of a new journey. Treat yourself would be my advice. Let’s face it you’ll probably never need to replace them. The fact that no Allen keys are required to get them to fit is a bonus, too.

    Enjoy the thinking whether or not to process!

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  6. Andrew,
    I purchased the 2014 Ortlieb Classic Pluses, both front and rear, for my Lancancashire to Sicily ride last year and, like you, enjoyed excellent service from them. I went for the pluses because of the non shiny finish which I much prefer but apart from that I’m sure they’re much the same?
    All my equipment and supplies bought from Wiggle – good service and good prices.

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    • Thanks for the info Steve. I was just saying to someone on Twitter (who was trying to help me find reasons to get the Pluses!) that apart from anything else, the corduroy material is presumably more comfortable as a pillow than PVC. If you look carefully at the specification, the Pluses are ever so slightly lighter than the ordinary ones but I’m clutching at straws here. Wiggle don’t seem to have the Pluses with QL2.1 in stock but Evans do (despite showing the wrong picture) and a set of four – two front, two back – comes to £221.98. I’m pretty sure you can get a 10% discount with CTC however so that would bring it down to £200… I need to think! 🙂

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